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As the UAE and Japan celebrate 50 years of diplomatic ties, Abu Dhabi Festival 2022, in partnership with the Embassy of Japan and the Japan Foundation, presents the travelling exhibition, ‘Variation and Autonomy: The Prints of Contemporary Japanese Painters’ at The Galleria Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi which runs from 14 June to July 7.

The exhibition, curated by Kyoji Takizawa of the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts in Tokyo, presents the work of ten artists who experimented with prints and expanded the range of expression in contemporary art using the medium in the 1970s. Rather than focus on the artists who are considered to have shaped the history of contemporary Japanese prints, the exhibition showcases prints by painters who drew on trends in contemporary art and attempts to reassess the existing history of contemporary Japanese prints.

In addition to the internationally renowned Yayoi Kusama, the exhibition also features the work of Japanese artists Masanari Murai, Toshinobu Onosato, Yasukazu Tabuchi, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, Hitoshi Nakazato, Tomoharu Murakami, Naoyoshi Hikosaka, Kosai Hori, and Toeko Tatsuno.

Her Excellency Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival said “On the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Japan, Abu Dhabi Festival is pleased to partner with the Embassy of Japan and The Japan Foundation to welcome the travelling exhibition, ‘Variation and Autonomy: The Prints of Contemporary Japanese Painters’, to the city of Abu Dhabi, giving audiences in the UAE an opportunity to experience the beauty of contemporary Japanese art and to discover the talent of its influential artists.

“Showcasing 42 prints by 10 prominent Japanese contemporary painters, including the world-famous Yayoi Kusama, the exhibition reflects the Festival’s nearly two-decade commitment to bringing the greatest international talents to audiences in Abu Dhabi, advancing cross-cultural exchanges between nations and building bridges of communication through the arts,” Her Excellency added.

Ambassador of Japan to the UAE, His Excellency Akio Isomata noted, “I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation for their enthusiasm and dedication to organise this exhibition with us. I hope this exhibition makes a fresh contribution to further promotion of cultural exchanges between Japan and the UAE.”

The history of Japanese contemporary prints dates back to the 1950s when a growing number of painters working in lithography emerged. Printmaking soon rose to greater prominence in the 1960s as the opening of many printing workshops paved the way for artists who weren’t necessarily printmaking specialists to produce their own print works. The exhibition focuses on those artists who turned their hands to prints in the ‘70s using a wide range of styles and advancing the world of printmaking forward.

Part of Abu Dhabi Festival 2022, held under the theme, Crafting the Emirates State of Mind: Creation, Innovation and Joy, the innovative exhibition was inaugurated by Her Excellency Alkhamis-Kanoo and His Excellency Ambassador Isomata on Tuesday 14 June and can be viewed at the South Atrium, Level G of The Galleria Al Maryah Island. For more information visit


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